Generational Divides

Since I’ve already written about political unions in the past, the inescapable news that the UK has narrowly voted for “Brexit”, the UK’s exit from the European Union, would seem to have me stuck retreading ground and discussing the same thing all over again, only with a slightly gloomier outlook.

However, one of the interesting things to emerge post-referendum is the demographics of those who voted; broadly speaking, the young were most likely to vote remain, and the old were most likely to vote to leave. This shows a huge divide between the generations in our society – might your fictional society have a similar divide?

They were up to something. The Landsdowners. They always were.

Oh, they could smile and dress up like traders and entertainers when they came to Morwyn, but they were up to something, and Nadale knew it.

How could they pretend that forty years was enough? Forty years between the haunted looks of the Morwyn soldiers returning from battle, and smiling Landsdowner jugglers busking in Morwyn city streets.

The youth clapped and applauded. But what did they know? They didn’t remember who the Landsdowners really were. But Nadale did.

Here we see a society where a relatively recent war has created an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion for foreigners in the older generations. While the youth appear to believe wholeheartedly in the spirit of peace and cooperation, the elderly remain suspicious, and unable to get past the actions of the war many decades earlier (which, of course, most of the youth from both sides do not even remember).

Might they run into problems dealing with older generations when attempting to strike trade deals or even simply move around the city? Might these attitudes lead to some further effect, where the elderly are characterised as intolerant, backwards or incapable of change?

We can see that these attitudes are often shaped by history, that the changing nature of the world around them can lead different generations to see the world through different eyes as their experiences of it differ greatly. Often, these views are driven by a sense of helplessness, of an anger about having your life steered in a direction that you did not choose for yourself by the way the world has changed, and this can be a powerful driving force for attitudes.

Ophila stared out of the porthole. Blackness. It was always blackness.

Her parents were constantly bugging her to get her act together, to enjoy the Persephone’s leisure facilities and study for her navigation final, but what did they know? They’d seen sky, and trees, and lakes and mountains.

They’d chosen this life, and Ophila hadn’t. But she was still stuck with it.

Even if she could leave, it would be forty years before she could get to Earth. Ophila’s entire life would be spent in the same rooms, the same corridors, the same ship. How could her parents possibly understand?

Here we see a generational spacecraft. The divide between these generations is one of helplessness and a life without any self-direction.

We can see the tension here immediately; the young are stuck with the severe limitations of a life that they did not choose for themselves. Their parents, meanwhile, had a world of possibilities to choose from, and they chose the ship. They chose not just for themselves, but for their children, and their grandchildren, and for many generations to come.

How might this feeling of helplessness and control manifest itself in the ways that the generations deal with one another? How might the young choose to act when they reach the age where they are now in command of the Persephone? How might this feeling replicate itself down the generations? Might it lessen, as multiple generations each find themselves in the same, unchosen, position? Or might it increase, as the situation becomes more and more protracted and inescapable?

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